By Sadeem Al-Qorashi
Zainab Alradhi, the founder of Niswa. Image courtesy of Zainab Alradhi.
Like many journeys, the feminine journey begins with yourself, but not necessarily by yourself. For many women in the Arab world, publicly seeking knowledge about and discussing one’s body has been traditionally frowned upon, given the generally conservative and modest culture. However, with the new generation of young Arab men and women, it’s become a topic that is growing beyond mere one on one conversations. It is one that is building a community of an enlightened generation who have not only learned the language of their bodies, but have also become skilled in navigating parts of their bodies that they once rejected or refused to confront.
Today’s generation of Arabs are addressing controversial and sensitive topics with a wide Arab audience in new and innovative ways. Niswa, a bilingual community aimed at spreading body literacy in the Arab world, has pushed aside taboos and stigmas to create a safe space to discuss bodies, marital sex life, ovulation cycles and sustainability.
Zainab Alradhi, a certified fertility awareness educator and cycle coach in training, is the Saudi force behind Niswa. The 27-year-old was inspired to establish the platform when she and her husband tried to find a contraceptive method that is highly effective, hormonal-free and environmentally friendly. Facing a shortage of Arabic content dedicated to body literacy and sustainability, Alradhi took matters into her own hands to fill the gap with an environmental, woman-focused approach. She established Niswa, which translates to ‘women’ in Arabic, a platform that is available both in Arabic and English that offers accessible online content, workshops and courses about female anatomy, menstrual cycles, fertility awareness and more.
‘Niswa was born from the womb of transformation I experienced in my journey with body literacy, in an attempt to remove the stigma attached to our bodies, pleasure and periods,’ recounts Alradhi. Through this journey, Niswa played a significant role in destigmatising and normalising body education for men and women, and illustrating how body literacy can positively influence many aspects of life.
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